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Avoid an EB2 RFE Before You Have to Respond to One
The approval process for EB2 visas is long, arduous, and can get quite costly. That means when you submit your petition, or your client or employee’s petition for adjudication, you want to get it right the first time. If there are errors, inconsistencies, or requirements not met in the initial petition – or if CIS does not feel they have adequate evidence to make the right decision about your case, or your client or employee’s case for any other reason – a Request for Evidence (RFE) will be issued that you will have to respond to.
Why you do NOT want that RFE
Aside from taking more time and money to address an RFE, an RFE is also a big red flag on the petition. When you get an RFE for a glaring error, it draws attention to the small mistakes that would have flown under the radar, and the more holes in your petition CIS finds, the more complicated your RFE will be to respond to.
If you receive an RFE, don’t panic! Receiving an RFE can be transformed into an opportunity to strengthen your case, or the case of your client or employee. However, the best way to address an RFE is to avoid it in the first place.
An RFE is by no means a rare occurrence. In fact, we see more and more RFEs every single year. At TheDegreePeople, we help clients with education RFEs, which are extremely common for the EB2 classification because CIS trends change with regards to educational requirements, especially from the prevalence of work visas in STEM industry companies, and also because equivalency requirements differ from other work visas.
The first mistake petitioner commonly make is that the degree must be an EXACT match for the job offer on the PERM. In most cases, employers will hire employees with degrees in related fields because there is enough educational overlap that they can be sure the employee has the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to carry out the duties of their job. This is especially the case when the employee has years of work experience in the field alongside a degree in a related field. However, CIS disagrees. If the degree is not an exact match for the job offer on the PERM, you, or your employee or client will receive an RFE. To address this issue, you or your employee or client needs to have their education and work experience reviewed to write the equivalency of the necessary degree in the appropriate field, and submit that to CIS.
The second mistake – which can also be made with regards to the equivalency in the first mistake – is that the petitioner’s bachelor’s degree must be a SINGLE source. This is particularly a problem when a petitioner needs a credential evaluation to write the equivalency for a degree in the exact field of employ, or if the petitioner holds a degree from a country with a three-year bachelor’s degree track. Other visas allow for work experience and different education sources to be combined to write the equivalency to the appropriate bachelor’s degree. This is not the case with EB2. The way we handle this situation is to convert years of progressive work experience into a bachelor’s degree equivalency or a master’s degree equivalency, and then cite federal case law, graduate school admissions requirements for programs in the client’s field, and provide other necessary documentation to fortify this equivalency.
If you, or your employee or client receives an EB2 RFE, talk to a credential evaluation agency with extensive experience working with specific visas, and international education experts on hand. If you call and the agency does not ask about the particular job or visa, look elsewhere. While they may be able to write an accurate equivalency, they will not be able to write the accurate equivalency that you or your employee or client needs to fulfill the unique requirements of the EB2 visa.
If you have yet to file, make sure your petition, or your employee or client’s petition does not fall into one of these common EB2 education traps. Don’t give CIS an excuse to issue an RFE. Get it right the first time.
About the Author
Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at TheDegreePeople.com, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.